Advancing Orthotics Manufacturing with Laser Technology and Additive Manufacturing
Mechanical Engineering Design and Improvement
Footwork Orthotics London Inc. creates custom orthopedic footwear, medical bracing, and compression garments for its patients, with a focus on customized orthopedic footwear. Customized footwear addresses the specific needs of individuals that may suffer from structural foot deformities and/or special mechanics deficiencies. The company highlights the need to improve its dated process of creating custom footwear, one that is demanding, time-consuming, and expensive, and improve it by infusing currently-available technologies such as co-ordinate measuring machines and 3D printers. By leveraging the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre’s expertise in these areas, the collaborative team will reform the way Orthopedic Shoes are manufactured, ultimately reducing the process and product’s time, costs, and related inefficiencies.
Over the course of the project, several different 3D printed prototypes were created. Through each prototype, product improvements were made to decrease material usage, increase strength, and maximise comfort. The final prototype was created using Polyjet technology to allow the use of multiple materials to achieve the desired hardness and durability.
A modular system was requested to allow the use of various inserts to address specific conditions that patients may require. On the upper portion of the sandal, there is an area to place a metatarsal pad insert. This insert may be replaced with a blank insert, without the metatarsal pad, if the support is not necessary. This modularity extends to the outsole as well. The standard outsole may be replaced with variants that have extra height in the heel area, to satisfy many patients’ needs for heel lifts. This modular sandal can be used as a trial device to help reduce the time spent fitting custom orthotic footwear. In addition, the modularity of the sandal will let patients test out specific orthotic features to avoid the creation of custom orthotic that may otherwise need to be re-worked or wasted entirely.